On Pets and our Relationship With Them

February 5, 2007

This was written as a kind of eulogy for our cat, who escaped on January 2nd and was missing for 25 days. We were very fortunate to have gotten him back, as our neighbour contacted us with news that he may be living in their garage. We had nearly given up all hope, but it goes to show you that small miracles do happen.

How do you measure the relationship between a man or woman and pet? It can sometimes be a difficult thing to quantify. On the surface it may seem like a matter of give and take. We feed them, clean up after them and give them a roof to live under in exchange for their companionship. They depend on us for survival, and we depend on them for their love in return, but do cats really love us?

It’s a natural human assumption to think that cats share all the emotions that we do. Although we’d like to believe that the relationships we share with animals are similar to the ones we share with friends and family, there are a number of obvious differences that set them apart. Perhaps the most obvious one is that animals cannot communicate with us through verbal means, although many animals can be very vocal. They can’t come up to you and say, “I love you,” or “I really missed you while you were gone.” When you forget to fill up the food dish or clean out the litter box, cats don’t run up to you and call you a jerk for being absent-minded. When you’re teasing them or poking fun at them, they don’t tell you to screw off, although four claws across your forearm is usually enough to get that point across. They can’t say any of those things, and yet something about their behavior is enough to convince us that cats share our feelings indefinitely.

And so the simple answer is yes, cats do love us, probably more than we’ll ever realize. It’s written all over their body language – the way brush up against our leg, the way they cuddle in our laps when we sit on the couch, and the way they shut their eyes and purr when we scratch the back of their necks. It’s a mutual bond that extends far beyond filling food dishes and scooping litter. Even though sometimes we take them for granted, and sometimes they even flat out annoy us, having to think about our lives without them is heart-breaking. Indeed, it is a sad and cruel fate that we should have to outlive them, and watch them pass from this world. Cats depend on us for survival, but also for our love, so we owe it to them to appreciate and cherish the relationship we have with them from the day they’re born until the day they die.



  1. People have a nice mutual relation with their pets. Deep down, we all feel that sense of “needing to be needed”, and pets are a way of showing this. As you say, they depend on us for food and shelter, and just to let them out to run around. It’s no wonder that cats and dogs are our favourite pets; they can really show their joy.

    On a sad note, many people find they can’t “replace” their passed away pets with “another one”. It’s just too painful.

    But it sounds like things ended up well for you!


  2. Love this!!!

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